NORMAN — To preview Oklahoma’s 2013 season opener this evening against Louisiana-Monroe, here is the second of three pregame blog posts you’ll get from Ryan Aber and I.
We’ve each picked one OU player who has something to prove tonight.
RYAN: Corey Nelson, Linebacker
Nelson arrived in Norman with huge expectations on his shoulders. A couple years ago, OU’s coaches talked about Nelson as the clear best player on their defense. Last season, he was schemed out of the defense by the end of the season as Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops tried to adjust to Big 12 defenses after many years away. Stoops has said since that he thought he did the linebackers a disservice. The attitude that Nelson has taken through the offseason and into today’s opener has drawn rave reviews from both Sooners coaches and teammates. Nelson needs to start on a positive note to prove that there’s something behind all that and it’s not just talk.
JASON: Jordan Phillips, defensive tackle
Oklahoma needs Phillips to have a big year on an inexperienced, questionable defensive line, especially in this game, with Chuka Ndulue suspended. Phillips was a four-star prospect when he arrived in Norman, but so far hasn’t come close to reaching his potential. The sophomore played sparingly last season on a unit that struggled all season, raising questions about his effectiveness. If he couldn’t get in that rotation regularly, how good could he really be? Today begins his chance to show what he’s learned in the offseason under new defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery. Phillips only made preseason headlines this year when he was run over by true freshman back Keith Ford in the Oklahoma Drill, so he’s got a ton to prove in this first game.